Minnesota basketball begins shortly and the prognosticators (including this blog) are not bullish on their chances.
Sports Illustrated (which somehow still exists) has the Gophers checking in at the 141 and the worst Big Ten team in the country.
KenPom’s early rankings put the Gophers at 120, with a projected conference record of 4-16. However, if you dig into those rankings, the Gophers are actually underdogs in every single conference game, and only projected to win 2⁄3 of their non-conference games. Those games include such titans of the basketball world as Purdue-the other one, and Texas A&M-also the other one.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index incorrectly says that Minnesota is the third worst team in the Big Ten, with an overall ranking of 75, ahead of Northwestern (insert Nelson laugh) and Nebraska (insert very big Nelson laugh). Both the Wildcats and the Cornhuskers should be ashamed of themselves.
The Bracket Matrix is not up yet because it is much too early, but in the least shocking piece of news Minnesota will not be included.
That got us thinking about bottomless sports failure in our lives, leading to the following question from our Slack chat.
What was the worst team you have ever been a part of?
UStreet: In college, I signed up for an intramural volleyball team. Including me, over half of the team had never played volleyball before. Each volleyball game was a best of 3 sets and to win a set a team needed 25 points. My team did not win a set over the entire season. We lost one game to a team that did not have the minimum number of players to play. In one game, we only scored 10 points total.
One of the team’s we played was from a faith denomination on campus and prayed for us afterwards. It didn’t help.
mowe0018: It was about 5 years ago and my wife and I didn’t have any kids yet so I thought it’d be a good idea to play in a rec league about 30 minutes away and with games starting at like 9 or 10 PM on Wednesdays. Additionally, only three of the guys had ever really played together before and the roster was pretty short to begin the season. Well, it quickly became apparent that the teams in this league were either vastly more talented than us or had been playing together so long, they looked like well-oiled machines. We got thumped by 30 or so by a team on multiple occasions that was comprised of mostly mid-40s players. And teams in our age bracket (mid 20s) dispatched us with equal ease. During the tumult, we even recruited a couple of legitimate Division I players (played A-10 ball) who were in and out of the fold and contributed very little except to destroy any semblance of team chemistry we had attempted to build. We won one game out of 10, and the only redeeming moment for me personally was a game where I went about 8-12 from three. I learned from that experience that I’d rather lose by 50 with my friends then never touch the ball and lose by 10 with strangers. Also, no rec league ball is worth getting home at 11:30 on a work night.
GopherNation: In my early 30s I played on a rec league team that a co-worker invited me to play on. This co-worker was a DIII all-conference player who was a very good rec league player. So as a competitive person he put us in a relatively competitive league. In the first or second game of the year he tears his ACL, so our best player and the one guy who knew everyone on the team was out for the year. The rest of the year was scrambling to get 5 or 6 guys and get killed in every game.
Until one game late in the season, we held a slim lead late.
Guy on opposing team drives down the lane and instinctively I step in his way to take a charge. Think about this for a minute. I am putting myself in harm’s way so that my team can win a meaningless rec league game in St. Louis Park. (Approximately 10 years later I couldn’t tell you one person who was on that team.)
So the guy driving the lane is shooting a running layup with his knee raised. I step in to take the charge and his knee drives into my ribs. The charge is called. We win the game. The next three nights I cannot sleep because breathing is challenging and hurts. This was the only time in my life I’ve been given prescription pain killers.
It was not worth it.
zipsofakron: I was on a high school intramural team that had lost for two years straight, going 0-23. Very rarely were the games close, though we did lose in OT on a couple of painful occasions. Perhaps the most painful was in the postseason of our second and final season. Miraculously we were up by three points against the second-worst team in the league with 5 seconds to go. The guard drove down the length of the court and hit a running 40-footer to send the game to sudden death OT. We won the tip, promptly clanked the ensuring wide-open layup attempt and the other team ultimately won. However, in our final game in the loser’s bracket of the postseason, we finally pulled off the upset and won what would’ve been our final game. We then lost the ensuing game, ending our season with a total franchise record of 1-24.
GoAUpher: I played in a local rec style slow pitch softball league after college. I convinced a nearby bar to sponsor us to pay for the team fees. In return we promised to drink there after the games. I don’t think we won a single game and I was never able to convince people to live up to the go to the bar agreement. Instead, everyone just drank harder at the games as the season went on. I think we went to the bar once. They did not get their money’s worth, especially since the agreement did not require the t-shirts to have their logo.